Imagine you're in a crowded parking lot and don't feel like circling for what seems like hours to find a spot. Now, what if you could tell your car to find its own spot and, even better, command it to pick you up again when you're ready to leave?
That's the promise of Nissan's NSC-2015.
One of the objectives in the design of the car is to "reduce time loss, such as that spent on looking for parking," said Toru Futami, expert leader for Nissan's IT & ITS development department, in a press release.
Nissan's NSC-2015, on display at the CEATEC 2012 conference in Japan, can find its own parking spot and return to pick you up after being summoned via mobile app. The car uses sensors and a camera to keep track of its location, and gives an owner a 360-degree camera view via an LTE connection of the area around the car, allowing him or her to remotely trigger the car's alarm in case of suspicious activity. Nissan will begin selling the car in 2015.
To that end, after the NSC-2015 uses sensors and a map to gain an awareness of its own location, finds itself a spot, and safely parks in it, its owner can use a smartphone to access an automated valet parking app to summon the car for pick-up when it's time to go.
The car also has an integrated LTE connection that allows its owner to keep track of its status and location via a smartphone. This type of monitoring can come in handy in case someone tries to break into the car, as the camera provides a 360-degree view of what's happening directly outside of it, according to Nissan. In case of a possible intrusion or attempted theft, the NSC-2015's owner can set off the car's alarm remotely.
Nissan isn't the only automaker -- or company, for that matter -- to explore the design of robotic, self-driving cars, which many believe is the future of driving. Car manufacturer and rival Honda debuted its self-driving car in 2009, which helps a human driver do the job.
More famously, a couple of years ago Google demonstrated a self-driving Toyota Prius that, powered by Google software and hardware, could anticipate oncoming traffic, stop signs, or pedestrians in a crosswalk. Rather than go completely driverless, Google's self-driving car, like Honda's, supplements the work of an actual person behind the wheel.
As romantic as a car that drives itself sounds, it will probably be some time before these robotic autos hit the road across the US, as most states still have laws that require someone to actually drive a vehicle for it to be roadworthy.
However, in California, Google's self-driving cars have legally logged hundreds of thousands of miles.
Nissan expects to have its self-parking car on the market by 2015.